I am a strong believer that runners train to race through tough conditions. After all, as one of my favorite race-day posters reads "If it was easy, everyone would do it."
Each race has its own unique circumstances and conditions. Expecting a PR when running into 20mph headwinds is just silly. Expecting that the heat won't affect your race is borderline dangerous, even if you have been training in the heat.
|Treating heat illness|
Our sport glorifies those who push through tough circumstances. After all, if we don't push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, we'll never improve. But there is a fine line between exceptional performance and stupid risk-taking. So...
...in the spirit of full disclosure, I have DNFed, and it's OK.
After training for a year for a triathlon in Encinitas, CA, including many hours of swim workouts, I thought I was ready for anything. Unfortunately on race morning the surf was 8-10 feet with a strong rip current.
I watched the first wave (elites) get dragged 400 yards off course. Still, I got into the water.
I got pummeled and dragged off course by the current. I was not making headway against the surf.
I turned and paddled back in to shore. I had an official cut off my timing chip. I finished the bike and run as a fun run. I won't say I'm proud of my DNF, but I am proud that I was wise enough to know my limits that day.
I also have one race that I DNSed.
Another triathlon was scheduled in the autumn. San Diego had gone more than 180 days without rain. On the day before the race, the heavens opened up, washing 6 months of trash, dog poo, and other unmentionables into the bay.
While the County had officially closed all waters to swimming, the race organizers chose not to turn the race into a duathlon. The swim was on, despite all health regulations to the contrary.
I was not getting in that water.
I slept in.
Reading reports of sinus infections, sore throats, and other post-race ailments, I've never regretted the decision to not start that race.
And heat is my enemy in any race.
Northwest Florida is warm all the time.
When I run, it's hot outside.
My body, theoretically, is used to this.
Still, in this morning's half marathon, I suffered from heat illness. While I have no formal diagnosis, I can say that at about mile 11 I noticed I had stopped sweating (despite consuming two full bottles of water).
I threw in the towel and walked.
This wasn't a wussy move on my part. I knew the symptoms and made a calculated decision. And, it turns out, my on-the-fly diagnosis was pretty accurate. I took my temperature an hour after the race - 100 degrees - and that was after soaking in a cold bath.
So, the moral of this story is: if you are running in the heat, keep these symptoms in mind (from Medlineplus.gov):
- Heatstroke - a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes; symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness
- Heat exhaustion - an illness that can precede heatstroke; symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse
- Heat cramps - muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise
- Heat rash - skin irritation from excessive sweating
Be safe, friends!
Have you ever DNSed or DNFed a race?